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Weather Changes Quickly at Higher Elevations

Friday we decided to take another drive on the parkway. After the rain we knew the colors must have changed dramatically and with the wind, we knew the leaves would be falling rapidly.

We packed a lunch and decided to eat at the Craggy Garden picnic area. It rises above the parkway and has lots of picnic tables spread out at safe distances. The colors were magnificent. Blazes of oranges, golds and reds adorned the trees.

The elevation at the picnic area is approximately 5,600 ft. We could see clouds rolling in at a distance. As we turned to drive into the picnic area, we could actually see the fog push across the truck. Visibility was very low by the time we reached the parking lot. The temperature dropped to 49°F (9.4° C). The wind was cold so we ended up eating in the truck.

After we ate, we drove up to the visitors center. It was completely socked in. We were feeling sorry for bicyclists wondering how they would finish their descent safely. There are normally long range views, but as you can see from the video, there were no long range views to be seen. It was cold and windy!

We realized it would be futile and precarious to continue up toward Mt. Mitchell, so we headed back home. The wind shifted direction and suddenly things started to clear. We drove back into the picnic area and the difference in the weather in only 15 minutes was unbelievable.

Below the fog, the colors were truly amazing. Well worth the trip!

 

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Craggy Gardens, Part Deux

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We took another drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday intending to take the short Craggy Gardens Trail. We did not go prepared for any possible weather condition, however. Even though it was nice and sunny here at home in the Foothills, there were quite a few thunder clouds forming as we got closer to Asheville.

We either missed the peak of the rhododendron blooms or it has not quite happened yet. We made the decision to dodge the storms and plan to go back early next week fully prepared.

The drive up and the scenery around Craggy Gardens was still gorgeous. We got a few lovely photos and enjoyed a tomato sandwich picnic on the tailgate of the truck.

On the way home we stopped at the Farmers Market and picked up some South Carolina peaches and some Grainger County, TN tomatoes. Fresh vegetables are always a welcome  treat while we wait for our garden to produce for us. We have had cherry tomatoes, but that’s been it so far.

Back at home I went out to water some plants and encountered a rather large either black snake or rat snake hanging around the faucet. By the time I got hubby to urge him elsewhere, he was long gone. We will need to watch for him around the bird feeders now. They are very adept at tree climbing.

The day ended on a high note. The lightening bugs were putting on a nice display in the back yard. All and all, a rather special day.

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1LinerWednesday – Come Ride With Me

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L. M. Montgomery

Yesterday when we saw the prediction for two days of rain we decided to rearrange our day and take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The rain and wind coerce the leaves to fall to the ground creating a caramel-colored brown carpet woven of the remnants of summer. We wanted to see the splendor while the trees still had the color in their hair.

The black bear cubs were out again where we had seen them a few weeks before. I captured a couple of photos and a short video. At the end of the video when the bear retreats into the woods, you can hear him growl if you listen closely.

I tried to capture a little of the winding road as we weaved in and out of the trees. The light plays tricks as it changes from sunlit spaces to dark protected shadows.

Hubby snapped a photo of me in front of this vibrant red tree. I am not sure what was with that stance — ha!

And these photos that follow? They need no explanation.Just enjoy them. I certainly did enjoy taking them.


What wisdom can you convey in one line? 1LinerWed is brought to us by Linda Hill. For all the rules and to read all the other offerings, click here ===> Linda G. Hill

Be sure to read all the comments and see how others handled their one line.

Blog, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 2

Day 207, cont.

When we left Little Switzerland, we decided since we had nothing pressing to do at home it would be a great day to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway home. Our GPS never lists it as a route, because it is hilly and curvy and the speed limit hovers around 35 or 40 mph.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile scenic parkway that runs between Rockfish Gap, Virginia and ends near Cherokee, North Carolina. As with any project concerning setting aside land as part of a national park, the Parkway was not without its detractors. Today I am thankful it exists. Seeing this protected land makes me wonder how the terrain could have been impacted otherwise.

This is especially meaningful to me at a time when our national parks seem to be up for grabs to the highest bidder.

We stopped at every overlook between Little Switzerland and Craggy Gardens. Just before we reached Craggy Gardens, we decided to make the side trip up to the summit of Mount Mitchell. At an elevation of 6684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

So, with no more words, I will just share the photos from our drive. Enjoy!

I look very unhappy in that last picture! It was a steep little climb in some thinner air for this tired old lady. I was not unhappy at all. It was a truly glorious day!

art, Blog, Lapidary, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 1

Day 207

Yesterday was not only a cup half-full day it was a cup-runneth-over day. We were exhausted when we got home but it was the best kind of exhaustion!

We had a fairly leisurely morning with coffee and a bagel for breakfast then we headed up toward Spruce Pine for their annual Fire On The Mountain blacksmith festival. This is the third year we have attended. It is the perfect venue if you love moving metal with fire and seeing men in kilts!

On our way, we stopped at our same little road-side vegetable stand and bought a bunch of ramps to tuck away in the cooler. Ramps are a mountain delicacy that grows in moist higher elevations. They are a cross between an onion and garlic — very pungent but delicious. Ramps were one of the early vegetables that native Americans looked forward to after a long winter. There are ramp festivals throughout the mountains this time of year.

We headed on up to Spruce Pine to check out the festival. We always enjoy the youth blacksmithing competition. I love seeing young adults interested in learning these old-school crafts. The ‘try your hand at blacksmithing’ is always popular as are the demonstrations by the master blacksmiths. Hubby found a used Peter Wright anvil he wanted.

 

We met one member of a talented husband and wife team who combines metal, class, and enamel to create some beautiful pieces of art. I fell in love with the gates they make. We were invited to attend their studio tour in early June. Now if I only had a place to install one of those gates.

After we enjoyed our picnic on the tailgate of the car and a trip to the ATM, the 109-pound anvil was loaded into the car and we were on our way.

Since we were so close to Little Switzerland, we decided to check it out. It is a small village just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It boasts Swiss mountain lodges, gift shops, and a few places to eat. There are also some hiking trails, a book store, and some shops to enjoy. We were not interested in the touristy things so we just rode through and then drove over to check out The Emerald Mine of Little Switzerland. I am a novice lapidary enthusiast, so I am always on the hunt.

We were greeted at the sluice building by the caretaker Barbara. If I were to guess her age I would guess early 70’s. She was a rough-around-the-edges kind of gal. I had to continually ask her questions because she was not forthcoming with information. I discovered she bought the mine as a retirement venture and opened it to the public in 2004. Unfortunately, according to the website, her husband passed away so it may just be her running the place now.

They, like many other gem ‘mines’ in this area, offer buckets you can buy and sluice to find the hidden gems. I asked her if the buckets were salted — a term used to describe mixing foreign materials into the buckets of minerals not found natively in the area. She gave me that incredulous look and said “Of course they are salted. You can’t find that stuff here.”

We looked through the gift shop in an old cabin above the sluicing building. I was surprised to see a sign that listed prices for faceting gems found at the mine. Looking around the place, I could not imagine where this could happen. I turned and asked our host who she gets to facet the stones. She replied, “I do.” It seems. Barbara moved here from Washington, D. C. and faceting was something she had done prior to buying the mine.

We left with the promise to come back at a later time to actually go down and do some digging around the mine (the original mine shaft was closed years ago). She just nodded with the warning to call before we came. We chuckled at our interactions and wondered how tourists ‘from away’ might react to her. Her exterior was as hard as the rocks she sold, but I sensed a sweet soul under the rough exterior.

From there we decided to take the leisurely way home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. It probably increased our drive time an hour or so, but it was well worth the time.

For photos and details of our drive, look for part 2 later today.